DoD fraud cases topping a billion Rand under investigation

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Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) heard from outgoing SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Provost Marshal General, Rear Admiral (JG) Mokgadi Maphoto, there are currently nine corruption and fraud cases, with a total monetary value in excess of R1 billion, at various stages of investigation in the Department of Defence (DoD).

Of five presently at the forensic audit stage the “irregular awarding of a contract” for unspecified DoD asset management tops the list with a Military Police Division value of R604 million. Not far behind is a second contract for asset management with a value of R447 million, according to Maphoto’s presentation. Number three is a R239 million total life cycle management contract. Positions four and five go to 1 Military Hospital where an ongoing refurbishment has cost R10 million and what is termed an “irregular expenditure of R561 120 at “catering school”.

As far as action is concerned, JSCD co-chair Cyril Xaba and his committee heard the bigger asset management contract is now with Chief Logistics for “recommendations that officials need to be held accountable”. The second asset management contract is at a similar stage with the addition of implementing forensic recommendations.

The 1 Military Hospital refurbishment contract is, the committee heard, with the Hawks, officially the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), with the “enquiry number” 02/09/2021 and the notation “investigation continues”.

An indication of the snail’s pace at which justice can move in South Africa comes from the state of play explanation accompanying an update on a case registered in 2017. It relates to “non-compliance with the mandatory pre-qualifying criteria.” The matter involves R105 million. In October 2021, the Director of Umkhombe Marine was arrested and released on bail. The case was postponed seven times, the latest date for which is 1 March 2024.

Another case registered last March and involving personal protective equipment (PPE), presumably relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictive regulations, was referred back for “further investigation” by an unnamed DoD Legal Services legal satellite office (LEGSATO). As the case was laid by an MP based at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof the presumption is it was the satellite office at what is now the Air Mobile Deployment Wing (AMDW), formerly AFB Swartkop in Valhalla, Centurion.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and Hawks are investigating a case from 2019 involving ICT service bids not evaluated according to correct criteria. Service provider EOH Mthombo conceded overcharging the DoD by R41 million and agreed to pay this back. The SIU is collecting this money with interest.